The Pursuit of purpose at work among millennials

Migueles, Carmen Pires
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Purpose – In the human quest for meaning, work occupies a central position. Most adults spend the majority of their waking hours at work, which often serves as a primary source of purpose and meaning. As the firm’s workforce constitutes an important source of its success, both scholars and practitioners are paying increasing attention to the recent field of meaning and purpose at work. In the field of the study of Organizational Behaviour, this dissertation focuses on examining the work orientation of Millennials (money, status or purpose). Moreover, it also explores how the four potential drivers (Sense of belongingness, Sense of unity with others, Personal growth and Sense of impact) affect Meaningful work within the generation of Millennials. Design/methodology/approach –158 full-time employed Millennials are studied. The data is collected via an online survey. Findings – The analysis finds (1) Millennials are in the pursuit of purpose at work (2) Millennials value purpose over status and money (3) only sense of belongingness, personal growth and sense of impact affect meaningful work (4) sense of unity with others did not impact meaningful work of Millennials. Finally, (5) Sense of impact is the most influential driver. Research limitations – Due to the lack of mature measurements of sense of purpose and meaning at work, future research, need to develop better-designed and conceptually stronger measures of meaningful work. Millennials in developing countries should also be studied as it could improve the theoretical and practical implications derived from the research. Moreover, there are aspects, which remain to be answered, for example, how this model works for different contexts, such as industries, organisational cultures, and how it evolves through different life moments. Practical implications – The findings emphasise the importance of understanding the work orientation of Millennials as well as the drivers that increase the meaning and purpose at work. It will help managers to develop greater purpose at work by changing the way business practices are approached with a win-win situation. Employees will bring their full set of values and strengths to work and, in turn, the organisation will support the employee in using those values and strengths in service of its mission. Originality – Up to now, no study has focused on studying the drivers of Meaningful work among the Millennials generation. On top of that, some people see work in their lives as solely a source of income or status. Others are oriented to see work as primarily about purpose – personal fulfilment and helping other people. The relatively sparse empirical research published on the Millennials characteristics is confusing and contradictory, and thus, there has been an inconclusive debate about their work orientation.

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